On Saturday, December 12 at 6:30 p.m. Gulfport Police Department’s Marine Officer John Ross led the Boca Ciega Yacht Club’s 35th Annual Christmas Boat Parade.
The nearly three-hour parade along the shoreline of Boca Ciega Bay set sail at Gulfport’s Marina District and snaked along Town Shores to the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club and back home.
Under Ross’s guidance, none of the vessels ran aground, unlike past years.
“Everyone made it back without any issues,” said Ross with a sigh of relief.
Not only did Ross emulate Rudolph’s safe and reliable sleigh-leading abilities, he also escorted Santa and Mrs. Claus in the GPD Marine Patrol Boat.
Twenty-four vessels registered for this year’s parade; each paid an entry fee of two or more unwrapped presents or a check made out to Gulfport Police Department’s Operation Santa. BCYC collected 160 toys and raised more than $1100 for the cause, according to BCYC spokesperson Jonathan Cornwell.
“The outpouring of gratitude from the community that we found a way to do this event without canceling it due to the pandemic has been huge,” Cornwell said. “We shook out an extra $800 from our parade budget to buy $25 gift cards from local businesses to help them out. The cards have been mailed to the captains [that participated in the parade] as a thank-you gift.”